Singles... Reviewed by Jarvis
Melody Maker, 27 October 1999
[no idea who did the written bits that preface Jarvis speaking - which are in quotation marks - ghastly specimens of that late-stage-UK-music-press shouty-coarse comic mode)
Highpoint of "The Man Who", owns a City and Guilds in Advanced Showstopping and bombastic enough to blast holes through Neptune.
"This sounds like Travis. Slightly maudlin. It's difficult because initially when you hear their songs, you find them quite dull, but they do often become quite catchy the more you hear them. It was good that it ended when it did, because it had elements of wanting to be an anthem, and I thought it was gonna go on for another three minutes with a big guitar solo. Not really my cup of tea, but I've no doubt it'll do very well. They get played a lot on Radio 2 and I tend to listen to Radio 2 these days. It didn't offend me, but it didn't grab me either." 3.5/5
Five: Keep On Movin'
Giving up on their dream of being an EMF who wash, Five break out the sitars, the gospel backing singers and a strange squeaking noise like a Pekinese being startled with a radish.
"It must be a boy band because you get a different voice coming in on the second verse. Everybody has to have a turn, don't they? I haven't got a clue because that's not my scene. That's got the worst guitar sound ever at the beginning of it. Oh, it's Five (Sings a snippet of Everybody Get Up). Well out of five, I'd give that a one. It wasn't as good as 'Everybody Get Up', was it? That was just bland." 1/5
Dixie Chicks: Ready To Run
Sounds like Dolly Parton collaborating with B*Witched, if you can imagine the unspeakable pan pipe'n'pedal steel hell that entails. The Dubliners must've shagged Garth Brooks and then, nine months later, shat the Dixie Chicks out of their stinking, bloated, fiddly-diddly arses.
"This is absolute shit. I would've thought it was B*Witched, but they've only just released a single, haven't they? Is it Shania Twain? Younger than that? Give me the first letters of the first and second name. D and C? Dirty Cows? I feel like I'm in an Irish pub. And that bloody violin's a bit piercing. Violins at a clog dance is all right and quite a lot of ELO wasn't bad, were it? You can imagine it in those certain kinds of plastic theme bars, a very sanitised kind of pretend folk. Not keen. They look very healthy, though." 1/5
Guided By Voices: Hold On Hope
Hang on. So Alan McGee signs some past-it old codgers who can't remember what a proper recording studio looks like, leaves them alone to do whatever the f*** they like for a few months, and they come back with the best song of their career?!?! Shurely shome mishtake?
"Is it Semisonic? Has it got a chorus? You'll have to tell me who this is. Guided By Voices? I've heard the name but I've never heard them. It's all right. It sounds like the singer's trying to be John Lennon, I'm sorry to insult them by comparing them to Semisonic. Not particularly my bag, but all right. I'd imagine it would be a hit. They didn't always play the chords you'd expect, so there was a bit of imagination. And there was one bit of tune which was quite nice. I wouldn't buy it, but I wouldn't turn it off the radio." 1/5
Ricky Martin: Shake Your Bon-Bon
ARRRREEEEBAA!! The rubber-limbed Latin Lothario with the mile-wide mouth and a cock the size of a carnival float returns to shaft us soundly up the vida loca with his sexy salsa heel-clickin' shenanigans.
"Did he say 'Latin lover?' Is it Ricky Martin, then? 'I wanna lay ya in the Himalayas'? That would be a bit cold, then, wouldn't it? You could shag a yeti. It's not as good as 'Livin' La Vida Loca', is it? Did I live la vida loca? Oof, not half. My hands were the colour of ochre afterwards, No doubt it will be a big hit because he's the star of the moment, isn't he? Out of five, I'd give that two and a half. The extra half for the line about wanting to lay you in the Himalayas." 2.5/5
Mumsy! That evil zombie clone of Dot Allison is in the wardrobe again! She's gonna get me with her spooky and rather pointless intelligent drum'n'psycho-violin'n'bass!
"It's all right. I don't think it's particularly original. The sounds are quite nice, but, for me, it's standing in that mid-range of being not terrible but not particularly grabbing. I can imagine it being played in a wine bar. I wouldn't throw up, but I probably wouldn't wont to stay all night." 3/5
The Crocketts: Nintendo Fallacy
Ah, that's better. Lovely soothing music box tinkles like ickie sugar plum fairy-waries playing hopscotch on Camberwick Green until - aaaaaarrgghhhh! - the Satan bastard offspring of Feargal Sharkey descends atop a flaming guitar of solid shite! Epileptic Molko anyone?
"The start was nice, it's gone downhill a bit now. If they got rid of the fuzzy guitar, it wouldn't be so bad. You keep thinking it's gonna go into a Sparks song as well. It's better than Semisonic, but it's got a poor chorus and the Larry The Lamb bit didn't do him any favours. The Crocketts? That's a bad name to call yourself. You're asking to be called a crock of shit, aren't ya? A bit jangle, weren't it?'' 3/5
Shola Ama: Still Believe
Shola still believes in love. Not all that impressive, unless she's spent the past year going to Hefner gigs with Damon Albarn. Can she die now, please?
"So this is a lady solo artist. Initials? SA? Shirley Arkwright? Sheila? Sarah? Oh, Shola Ama! Well this is dull, innit? It's got a gospel choir on it, which is a very big turn-off for me, especially after all that rock gospel stuff this year. It's hard for me to judge this sort of music because I don't know anything about it. It's that kind of mid-paced, pleasant nothingy type song. Can it stop? She hasn't had anything out in quite a while, has she? I wouldn't say it's a very strong return." 2/5
Ahhh, what's liddle Beck, the kooky chameleon, gone and done this time, eh? Northern soul trumpets? Bit Dexys, bit Radleys? Still an easy challenge for our Jarv, who has decided to guess the acts as they appear.
"The singing sounds like Beck. I haven't heard this before. That's unusual for him. When the brass started, I was afraid because I don't really like brass, but the banjo balanced it out. I'd probably have to hear that a few times. It must be hard because there's so many people trying to rip him off now. Was it Embrace who've done a song that sounds like a really shit version of Beck? That's f***ing appalling that song, especially the kazoo. That does go quite close to being pastiche, but it's got a few little twists and turns in it, a few daft noises and I do like the banjo." 3.5/5
Soothsayer: Can You Dig It
Boo Yakka! The Weird Al Yankovic of rap goes that one step beyond the page and sounds like Pop Will Eat Itself! In spooky voices! Nurse! The anti-skunk paranoia serum!
"It had worrying elements of being wacky. Some of the words and that weren't bad, but the music seemed really pedestrian in the background. I suggest he gets a better DJ. (Checks credits) Dr Israel should go back to his kibbutz. He wants to get someone with a little bit more funk." 2.5/5
Urusei Yatsura: Yon Kyoku Iri EP
Starts like a heavy metal Fun Lovin' Criminals, before diving joyously into the acid pool of Hiroshima death noizzze in which all Scottish musicians, apart from Travis and Runrig, are required to bathe thrice a day.
"UY? Urban Youth? Unavoidable Yawn? Can we stop it, please? That was crap. Just the most basic, indie sludge. Sounds like it could've happened any time in the last 10 years and it would still have been bad." 1/5
Jungle Brothers: Get Down
OK then, how about a jazz rap reworking of Kool And The Gang's "Get Down On It' with sporadic Charleston interludes and the sound of someone pissing against a wall?
"That's cheating, having someone else's chorus. The piano is all right, but the rapping is poor... This is a group, with the initials...? JB? Oh, it's them, innit. Jizz Bucket. The Jungle Brothers? They're supposed to be good, aren't they? That were crap. The best bit was the 'Get down on it' but I'd prefer to listen to the original version. It's all right when they take a song that you wouldn't be allowed or want to listen to and make something good out of it, but when it's like this, when the original song is quite good... that gets a one." 1/5
Junior Carter And West Street Mob: Breakdance Electric Boogie
'On your knees! On your back!' intones a vocoder robot like a Beginner's Guide To Breakdancing for morons. Jon Carter from Wall Of Sound is behind this, apparently. He deserves to be about six feet under it.
"If I had me piece of lino with me, I could do a bit of breakdancing, bit of robotics. I say they should've left it alone, not bothered remixing it. Fast forward to the B-side [Roots Manuva remixing 'The Message' by Grandmaster Flash]. Well, they've done a good job of screwing up that song, haven't they? The original of that was quite edgy, but they've made it into a lounge jazz thing. Bad idea. Just re-release the original one, I'd say. I'll never breakdance again." 1/5
Birth: Sweet Idol
A trip-hop version of early-Eighties soft rock types Godley And Creme. If you can conceive a concept more worthy of kneecapping, then send it in to the usual address and you could win a trip round to Birth's house with a chisel!
"A group beginning with B? The Bogards? Bulimia? BSE? Birth? More like after-birth. Sounds like a Semisonic B-side to me. Bland, yet offensive, which is quite a feat. Maybe it's fatigue setting in." 1.5/5
The Dumper (This week's absolute stinker!)
Semisonic: Closing Time
Beelzebub's own drinking tune.
"This sounds familiar as well. Is this Semisonic? It is! It's all in the name with that band. When has anything semi been good? A semi-lob-on, a semi-final, it's always halfway to something. It's semi-music, semi-good, which is no good at all. That's the worst one because it'll get played on the radio and it'll impact on my day in a bad way." 0.5/5
Jarvis' Single Of The Week...
Ian Brown: Love Like A Fountain
'Am I coming home yet?' sniffles rock's favourite former jailbird, his vocals muffled as if having his face pushed onto the floor of a shower cubicle. Then he's off on the techno chain gang, dreaming of soaring over those barbaric walls on wings of gilded melody. Pity, then, that he still sings like a crackgibbon with its nads stapled to a burning lamp-post.
"I've heard this one before. This is Ian Brown, isn't it? Yeah, I quite like this one. Let's see the picture."
No oil painting, is he?
"He is now. Yeah, I like that one. Everybody's always slagging his voice off, but think he's got a good voice. It was good in The Stone Roses because without his voice it just would've sounded like a heavy metal group. There's always been a dance element to his music. I don't know who did the picture but I like that too. It's a bit of a Crying Boy picture." 4/5